Friday, October 21, 2011

Snake Bites


Dijukno envenomations in North America are almost caused by either pit vipers, or much less frequently, coral snakes?

A pit viper, aka a rattlesnake, water moccasin, or copperhead bites with either one or both retractable fangs.  This can produce immediate pain and swelling in the area of the bite within 15 minutes.  If pain and swelling is not apparent after 30 minutes, envenomation likely didn't occur.  You will typically have discoloration and a blister form in the bite area, which may lead to destruction of the skin tissue.  Other symptoms you may experience are a funny taste in your mouth or a tingling in your lips within about an hour.
You may also experience weakness, chills, and nausea resulting is some muscle twitching.  The good news is that death is a rare occurrence.

Coral snakes have a bright red color on yellow.  These snakes can be deadly.  Coral snakes have non-retractable fixed fangs, and may have to gnaw a few moments to inject their venom.  You may experience a burning pain followed by swelling at the bite site; then pain, tingling, or numbness extending up from the bite area.  These symptoms may take up to 12 hours to develop.  More serious symptoms that may progress include difficulty speaking, seeing, swallowing, and breathing.  Coral snake bites are less common, but more lethal.

What to do when you or someone in your group gets bitten by a snake:


  1. Get away from the snake.  You don't want it to get the venom in if it failed the first time.
  2. Remain as calm as possible.
  3. Remove any jewelry such as rings, watches, bracelets, anklets, etc... that might restrict circulation if swelling occurs.
  4. Gently wash the area of the bite.
  5. Splint the bitten limb, and keep it at a level of  your or your group members heart.
  6. Transport yourself or your group member to the doctor.  Carrying the person is best, but walking slow when the person is stable is acceptable.
  7. It is okay to give acetaminophen to treat the pain, but avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory's such as ibuprofen, and aspirin.
  8. Avoid using cold packs, tourniquets, cutting, sucking, or electrical shocks.

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